There was something cool and mysterious about Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “The Sound of Silence.” I loved it as kid. But, I didn’t understand what it meant.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve tried to figure out why the song is titled “The Sound of Silence.” Some say it’s because Paul Simon, who wrote the song, was disenchanted by the postmodern world. He was frustrated by people’s inability to communicate with love and honesty. Others say the song’s meaning remains a mystery.
These words in the first chorus stick out to me: And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains within the sound of silence.
What’s the sound of silence? Can we hear it? Does the song’s title hint at a universal truth: Silence is our friend. It’s the language of God. And when we become still and listen—when we sit in solitude alone with the Creator—we can hear the silent voice of God.
Hello, Silence, My Old Friend
In an article titled, “God’s First Language Is Silence,” Reverend John Bauer notes, “The 16th century mystic, Saint John of the Cross, once wrote: ‘God’s first language is silence.’ In commenting on this insight of Saint John of the Cross, the late Trappist monk, Thomas Keating, in his book Invitation to Love, said: ‘Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand this language, we must learn to be silent and to rest in God.’”
If God’s language is silence, and we are in the Age of the Spirit (as I wrote about in an earlier blog), maybe we are being awakened to the Sound of Silence. And as we make space for silence and solitude in our lives, we’re able to enter into direct communication with the Creator.
Are You Awake?
The key to growing spiritually is to “awaken to the Spirit within ourselves,” writes Jesuit priest Richard Hauser in his book, Moving In The Spirit. It sounds simple, right? And it is—if we understand the language of God and learn how to connect with the Spirit.
According to Hauser, God’s deepest desire is to guide us with Divine Wisdom so we can experience love, inner peace, and happiness. So, the Creator placed the Spirit in our hearts as an internal compass that points us in the right direction.
When we take time to stop and listen, we can hear God’s voice through the Divine Spirit within us. And when we follow its loving promptings, we experience wholeness. We live our best life.
Let’s Get Unstuck
Before we awaken to the inner experience of the Spirit and hear the Sound of Silence, Hauser says we can get stuck by either:
- Ignoring the Spirit’s Presence; or
- Getting stuck in the early stages of the spiritual journey by trying to follow a checklist of rules.
The people in the Old Testament attempted to direct their lives by following a laundry list of rules and regulations. When Jesus came, he gave us the law of the Holy Spirit. He wrote its wisdom on our hearts. Following the inner promptings of the Spirit is now the way we’re invited to find the inner peace, wisdom, and balance our hearts seek.
When we awaken to the Spirit, we stop trying to conform to a list of rules and obligations as the sole means of finding God. We realize God’s Spirit dwells within us. And so we take time to be still and listen with our hearts.
In this awakening, we move inward as we experience the unique and intimate relationship developing between ourselves and the Spirit. As we connect with the interior Presence, it becomes the guiding force of wisdom and love in our lives.
In this new season of our one-on-one relationship with God, we seek the Spirit that is seeking us. We come to know God’s deepest desire is to guide us into wholeness and peace through the Spirit’s movement in our lives. Our spiritual antenna gets tuned into the radio frequency of the Holy Spirit.
God becomes a beloved spiritual companion inviting us into an intimate relationship. The Spirit becomes the transforming friend Jesus sent.
Entering Divine Presence through Solitude
If listening to and following the Spirit’s guidance is the goal of our spiritual journey, as Hauser says it is, then how do we create the space within ourselves to nurture that relationship? How do we till the soil in our hearts, so we can hear God’s Voice? How do we enter into the silent presence of God?
Hauser’s book, Moving In The Spirit, is definitely a must read for those who want to deepen their relationship with the Spirit.
And perhaps the words from Simon and Garfunkel’s song also offer us clues. Here’s my interpretation of their meaning:
The Sound of Silence
Hello, darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
In morning times of solitude we welcome the darkness of dawn as it greets the light of daybreak. Dawn is that special time of day we set aside to sit, be still, and listen for the voice of God. The darkness is a friend because it invites us into solitude before the noise of the world captures our attention. In solitude, we come to talk with the Divine again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
The visions planted in our brains are the simple words, images, and metaphors the Spirit offers us as we sit in the quiet. These bits of wisdom become trail-markers and compass points for our life’s journey. They remain with us because they are written on our hearts.
Within the sound of silence
Within the sound of silence is the voice of God, the One who whispers within our hearts words of affirmation, love, and guidance. When we befriend Silence, we grow spiritually. We awaken.
Can You Hear the Sound of Silence?
If Silence has a sound, I imagine we hear it only with the ears of our hearts. My teachers have said it’s the voice of the Spirit who whispers within each of us. It’s the silent voice of God guiding us with Divine Love and Wisdom. “Be still,” the words of the Psalm invite us. Listen to the Whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Practice Finding Flow
This week set your alarm clock ½ hour earlier than usual. Each day, find a quiet place to sit with God and listen for the Spirit’s Whisper. If your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your breath to center yourself. Let the Sound of Silence lead you into the Divine Flow as a pathway to reclaim inner peace, balance, and wholeness.
PS—Click the link below for a two minute video about the gift of Solitude:
Click Here to View Video
—brian j plachta